A leading charity has warned that a million pensioners could in fuel poverty this spring.
More than one million older households could be in fuel poverty by Spring due to rising energy costs, Age UK has warned.
The charity believes that inflation and rising prices are threatening the standard of living for pensioners on low incomes.
The charity said it is ‘extremely concerned’ by estimates that fuel prices will rise by 50 per cent, when the fuel price cap is ‘reset’ by regulator Ofgem in February.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said the greatest concern for the charity was that some older people would not try to keep their homes adequately warm, for fear of incurring big bills they cannot afford to pay.
The charity is calling upon the government to bring in emergency measures.
Why are fuel prices increasing?
The energy crisis began in August last year due to natural gas suppliers not being able to meet increased demand from countries such as China.
As a result, wholesale energy prices increased with suppliers in-turn charging customers more to cover the extra costs.
“We are calling for a package of measures to be brought in immediately, targeted at the older people who need extra help the most.
The package should include a £50 grant to those eligible for Cold Weather payment, and a big boost to the Household Support Fund.”
‘I can’t afford to heat my home and feed myself’
Dot, 73 is one of the many older households that are suffering from fuel poverty.
Dot who lives in Hodgehill, Birmingham struggles to pay her fuel bills and lives alone.
She has been donated extra blankets from her local church and worries about the future.
She said: ‘I have worked all my life and I hate to ask for any help, but these bills are too expensive for a person of my age.’
According to the latest government figures, the West Midlands is the worst affected region in the UK.
18% per cent of households in the region live in fuel poverty and struggle with energy bills.
Labour MP Liam Byrne represents Birmingham Hodge Hill, the worst affected constituency in England. He says that the government needs to back VAT cuts.
“Too many are once again having to choose between eating and heating, with over 20% of households in Hodge Hill in fuel poverty. The government needs to back Labours plan to cut VAT on fuel but also to invest in retrofitting to keep homes warm as we look to the homes of the future”
A government spokesperson said it recognised ‘the living pressures that pensioners are facing’ and that it had put in place £4.2bn worth of ‘divisive action’ to help those impacted.
The spokesperson said;
“We continue to support 11.4 million pensioners through initiatives such as Winter Fuel Payments and by extending the Warm Home Discount.’
The government response to the energy crisis has been widely criticised, The Labour Party accused the government of contributing to the crisis.
Pat McFadden MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:
“The Government’s incompetence and failure has contributed to this crisis – destroying UK gas storage, regulation failures which customers will now have to pay for and more.”